Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Life is a test

LSAT, MCAT, GRE; the list goes on for grad-school exams. These
tests put UW-Madison students through hell as they try to balance
studying for the grad-school test of their choice, schoolwork,
work, Badger football and a little fun during their senior year of

For many graduate programs, particularly med and law school,
these tests mean everything. A great score can make up for four
years of slightly lower-than-desired grades. A bad score … just
don’t get a bad score. Even the most impressive grades usually
cannot compensate for a low score.

Why is so much weight put on one test? I do not know. But the
truth is that the test is of utmost importance to one’s future. A
student’s exam score will dictate his or her grad school, which
will likely dictate whether that first job is on Wall Street or in
Billings, Mont.


However, these tests only judge so much. They do not judge
success in grad school, and plenty of successful people have gone
to graduate schools that U.S. News and World Report may not judge
as “Tier one” schools. At the same time, plenty of people have gone
to Ivy League schools and dropped out. These tests are an indicator
of certain skills. These tests do not judge character,
determination or the drive and will to succeed.

Whether you can figure out most of the 25 logical-reasoning
questions in 35 minutes on the LSAT or know every word the GRE can
think of, testing will not determine the happiness that comes with
your life.

I do understand the need for these tests. Every school has a
different curriculum and grading standards are not universal within
a university, let alone across different universities. These exams
are the only way for grad schools to try and judge people in a fair
and equal manner (though this equality is taken away by schools
that use race-based admission standards).

No score, however high or low, will be the complete determinate
of your future success and happiness. Indeed, even the definition
of success is different for everyone. Some people want the simple
things in life: a decent house, a good family and a stable job.
Others will only feel successful if they live a life of luxury, and
for others, helping people, making contributions in science, law or
literature, will be their measure of success.

Regardless of how you measure success, a high score on one of
the grad-school exams only means plenty of hard work is ahead. At
the same time, a low score means the same thing — plenty of hard
work in the future. It is making the most of opportunities that
separates people.

If you are given a valuable opportunity you can take it and move
on, or you can take that opportunity, run with it and create new
opportunities. This is life’s true test: making the most of what
you have to work with.

For those of you taking any of these exams in the next couple of
months or years, put the time into studying, because, like it or
not, they are crucial to your graduate admissions. But don’t forget
that the test does not mean everything. Life is far too short to
worry. Success is determined not by a test score or the grad school
you go to but by your character, hard work and determination.

As you move forward in life, remember what the author Ben
Sweetland said: “Success is a journey, not a destination.”

Matt Modell ([email protected]) is a senior
majoring in journalism and political science.


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